by Katie Navarra
Despite not having any children or grandchildren participating in this year’s Junior Nationals event, Warren (Jr.) and wife, Brenda, Bippert, owners of WBB Farm in Alden, NY, are ecstatic the event will be held in Harrisburg, PA, July 5-12.
Over 600 junior exhibitors from 36 states will travel to Harrisburg to participate. “This is the first time Junior Nationals has been in the East, ever!” Brenda noted, “it’s exciting to get the kids from out west here to see how different it is to raise cattle here in this climate.”
Aside from this being the first year Junior Nationals have been on the East Coast, the Bipperts have a special interest in this year’s competition. James Held from Orchard Park, NY will be showing his cattle at the event.
“When James was 8, his father worked for us and we gave James his first Hereford steer,” Warren explained. Since then, James has increased his herd to 11 cattle, all of which live on the Bipperts Farm in Alden. Now a student at Purdue University, James is particularly interested in the Hereford breed and shares a special relationship with the Bipperts.
Encouraging youth to become involved with beef cattle is a priority for the couple and that includes supporting youth interested at the local, state, regional and national level. “It’s (the beef industry) is like a second immediate family to us,” she said, “we’ve watched different generations go through and even though it’s competitive, it’s a fun, educational experience.”
Raising beef cattle has been a lifelong endeavor for the Bippert family. Established in 1946 as Bippert Farms, Edward Bippert started with a small herd of Angus cattle. His son Warren Sr. and later grandson, Warren Jr. worked closely with Edward to expand the herd. In 2005, Warren Jr. and Brenda took an interest in Herefords and introduced the breed to their herd. “The big joke is that Herefords are for the over-50 crowd because they are very docile, easy to work with and easy keepers,” Brenda laughed, “since we were nearing that age we thought we’d give the breed a try.”
Two years later, Warren Jr. and Brenda, took over the Bippert Farms entity and renamed the enterprise, WBB Farm.
With a new name, the family ushered in a new generation of farmers to operate the business. Their children and now grandchildren actively participate in the enterprise. “It keeps the family strong,” Brenda said, “we’re doing this for our next generation.”
Today, the herd totals approximately 70 cattle, 50 of which are Angus and the other 20 Hereford. Attracted to the breed’s ruggedness, the Bipperts integrated Herefords into the mix to enhance their work with the Angus breed. “We’re really just starting with the Herefords and we’re more on the horn side of the breed than the pole side,” Warren explained.
WBB Farm strives to breed and raise cattle with excellent genetics in both breeds for show, sales and breeding. They offer bulls, cows-open or bred- for sale by private treaty, at the farm. They also offer embryos for sale. Improving the genetics of both cattle breeds is important to the Bipperts. “We breed for longevity and milking and bigger bones,” Brenda said.
Around May 1, the cattle are turned out and rotated across 230 acres until mid-November. “They are supplemented with minerals and we provide a source of grain for young stock,” Warren explained.
“We’re more into purebreds than commercial cattle. Ours are kept on strict weight per day of gain schedules,” she said, “if a cow doesn’t take through A.I. or embryo, we’ll breed a Hereford and Angus cross because they make excellent feeder cows.”
Through the years, the family has earned recognition for their herdsmanship and commitment to improving the breeds. In 2000 they took their first Hereford cow to compete in the National Championship Show. There they won Grand Champion Cow/Calf pair. “It was a real honor,” Warren said, “we watch the trends and see what other people are doing so we can improve our own genetics.”
The duo is active in the industry as a whole. They are members of the NY Angus Association, NY Hereford Breeders Association, NYBA and are New York BAQ certified. Brenda is the Executive Secretary for the New York Beef Producers and for four years she served as the New York Junior Hereford Advisor. “Enhancing the beef industry is extremely important,” she emphasized.
In an effort to introduce new folks into the industry, Brenda and Warren were instrumental in the development of the annual New York State Supreme Female Show held in conjunction with the New York State Fair. “We wanted to increase the number of beef people at the county fair level. If they win at their respective county fair, they go onto compete at the Supreme Show during the State Fair. If they win they can walk away with $1,000,” Brenda explained.
In addition to the cattle operation, Warren and Brenda raise pigs for retail sale and research. Many of the pigs go to the University at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute for medical and behavioral research. “Pig heart valves have been found to be the same as human heart valves,” Brenda explained, “there are some humans who have received pig heart valve transplants.”
Newborn piglets are used for neonatal studies to benefit premature infants. “It’s nice to know we’re also helping in medical research,” she added. The pigs are studied behaviorally as well. “They’ve taught some of the pigs to play soccer,” she said.
For many years the Bippert family also operated a fruit and vegetable retail and wholesale business. “Bippert Farms was the predominant supplier for hospitals, schools and restaurants during the 1970’s and 1980’s before Sysco moved into the area,” Warren explained. Though the family is no longer involved with produce they credit their agricultural roots with keeping the family united. “The farm keeps our family strong,” they concluded.
For more information visit www.wbbfarm.com
by Katie Navarra